Clicker Training

What is a clicker?

It is a device that makes a clicking noise when you press it. The sound is distinct and consistent.

How does it work?

Clicker training has been around for over 30 years and has proven to be a very effective form of training. It can be used to control an elephant or a tropical fish and almost anything in between.

It works by ‘taking a picture’ of the exact moment of a desired behaviour. Once you have clicked, you then reward with a treat. The dog learns quickly that once it hears the click, it will be rewarded and will want to repeat that behaviour. Timing is crucial when training as even a few seconds delay can reinforce a different behaviour.

The click ‘bridges’ or ‘connects’ the behaviour and its reward, and so is called a ‘bridging signal’.

For example:

  • Desired behaviour – Dog sits
  • Mark the behaviour – Click as dog sits
  • Reinforce the behaviour – Reward (treat)

Usually after two or three clicks the dog will associate the sound of the click with something good.

Starting out

We should begin with basic good behaviour, such as being quiet, being calm, sitting down, lying down, or playing unattended. These are all good behaviours that we want to reinforce. We need to acknowledge these ‘desired’ behaviours with a ‘click’ then a ‘reward’.

Once the dog has established the connection you can then move on to advanced training. Wait until the behaviour is well understood before adding verbal commands such as the ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’ and ‘come’ commands.

As a result

Basic obedience, good manners and fun games can easily be ‘clicker’ taught. Training can be woven into regular daily activities including walking to school, making dinner or even watching TV.

Everyone in the family – children and adults – can participate.


Have fun with training and keep it positive!